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Parliamentary questions
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20 April 2020
Answer given by Mr Gentiloni
on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: P-001476/2020

The pandemic and the necessary containment measures will have a substantial negative economic impact. In response to this crisis, the Commission has so far proposed to mobilise EU funds approaching EUR 70 billion. It also adopted on 19 March 2020 a temporary framework to enable Member States to use the full flexibility foreseen under state aid rules to support the economy.

On 2 April 2020, the Commission made a number of further proposals to tackle the impact of this crisis, including a new instrument for temporary Support mitigating Unemployment Risks in Emergency (SURE), that will provide financial assistance, in the form of loans granted on favourable terms from the EU to Member States, of up to EUR 100 billion. On the monetary side, the European Central Bank (ECB) announced on 18 March 2020 a massive EUR 750 billion programme of buying of sovereign and corporate bonds. That announcement follows its package of monetary policy measures announced on 12 March 2020.

Member States have already taken bold fiscal measures of over 3% of gross national product (GDP) to support the economy in 2020. They have, in addition, announced liquidity-support measures, such as public guarantees , which currently total 19% of GDP. The scale of the fiscal effort needed for the protection of European people and businesses from the immediate consequences of this crisis and for the relaunch of the economy once the immediate impact of the pandemic has dissipated, goes beyond the normal flexibility within the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP).

Therefore, on 23 March 2020, EU Ministers of Finance agreed with the Commission assessment that the conditions for the use of the ‘general escape clause’ of the SGP were fulfilled. This will allow coordinating the policy response within the EU fiscal framework.

Priority should be given to expenses related to containing and treating the epidemic, provide the corporate sector with liquidity to face disruption of production or sales and protect workers against income losses.

Furthermore, the members of the European Council have tasked(1) the Commission and the President of the European Council, in consultation with other institutions, especially the ECB, with preparing a comprehensive recovery plan, on which reflections have started. The multiannual financial framework will be a central element of the recovery plan, to ensure that the EU has a cohesive exit from the crisis.

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